Saturday, August 13, 2016

"Messy New Orleans Jazz..."

 Went to the Sparrow in Park Circle a few night ago to see a "messy" band.

Stu Dias, the leader of Soggy Po'Boys, plays guitar with a passion and a voice to match.

Described as an Octet, I counted only 7 onstage, but I don't know how any movement, rhythm, or sound could possibly be missing.

Well, maybe a roving harp player and I don't mean a tiny harmonica.

A solid New Orleans jazz band that was formed in 2012.

The 'horn section" was especially active, ably backed by keys, drums, and an energetic upright bass.

The crowd was pleased there was no cover (really?) so when the tip jar was passed around, it was heavy with appreciation.

I salute the Sparrow for its delightful array of music and events.

It, the Mill and Madra Rua are basically in my neighborhood.

This makes a welcome change from heading downtown or to West Ashley and the Pour House.

The leader Stu told me they had just played a set at the Wednesday night series up at Awendaw Green.

They still had LOTS of energy and gave us quite a show.

A few days ago they played in Washington, DC, and worked their way down through Asheville to bring their messy Soggy Po'Boys show to the Lowcountry.

Kep an eye on the Sparrow when you're planning a night out. Lots of good surprises there. And - no smoking.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Yes, I will get back to my vacation photos but there's a lot going on!

We'll always have Paris.

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Monday, August 08, 2016

Hail..hail, the gang's all here!

 Almost a dozen members of my Photo Group got together Sunday morning in Summerville.

Rudy Lutge, a co-coordinator of the 21st Century Photography Group, offered a step-by-step tutorial on how - and why - to use Neutral Density (ND) filters.
"Think of these dark filters as sunglasses for your camera," he told us.

On a bright, sunny day, if you try to use a slower shutter speed, the image will be overexposed, Rudy added.

If you want to take a slow exposure shot of flowing water, an ND filter lets you use a longer shutter opening and change the look of a fountain (or waterfall) to a dreamy fog or blurred motion for a special effect.

Rudy often is out at Folly Beach in the wee hours before dawn, taking pictures of waves flowing  gently like mist, wrapping around rocks close to the shore. Oh, and he also shoots the sunrise!

Member David Gentry uses a tripod and shutter release cable to take his long exposure (1-3 seconds) photo.

By not touching the camera itself, the images are sharp because there is no camera shake.

Portraits with an out-of-focus background are another bonus of using the dark filters. Opening the lens wider causes a shallow depth of field and the face will stand out more.

The members brought an array of equipment and varying levels of expertise.

My little Canon sx280HS Point & Shoot camera can accept these filters and I can set a slow exposure for as long as 15 seconds. Not bad for a camera that fits in my shirt pocket.

Members John Cullati (L) and Charles Giet, discuss camera settings as we turn our attention to the water fountain.

It's behind city hall, where the Farmers Market is held on Saturdays, and I learned it's the site where a Summerville fire station used to stand. There is a monument there that honor first-responders.

Charles is a long-time resident and my go-to guy with any questions I have about his birthplace.

Here's one of my shots that alters the look of the flowing water.

Miniature waterfalls without having to drive a long distance. (Click on the photos and links for more details.)

If you're interested in photography, join our group. It's free and then come along on some of our photo walks or events.

Oh, what about my vacation photo of Paris and Edinburgh? I have plenty more and will share them in future postings on my blog.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay cool for a just a while longer.

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Friday, August 05, 2016

More than a timely tune-up.....

 A few years ago, I was very pleased when David Guerry came to my house to get my lawn mower running again. He makes house calls!

While he was here with all his tools, he also made sure my "storm" emergency generator started on the first pull.

Both were in need of his trained attention and he delivered.

I had promised I would take better care of both in the future, as I wrote him a check.

My promise worked for a while but then, during the second hurricane season, I got lazy and complacent and stopped cranking the generator once a month.

Hey, I didn't have to use it for power outages so it just sat there in the shed.

About a year later, I DID try to start it, pulling the starter cord over, and over, and over.

All I got was out of breath, a sore arm, and a racing heart.

But no storms that year, so it was not needed.

But the last two times I mowed my grass - with the nicely running riding machine - I saw I was leaving long, thin lines of tall grass. I had to go over the same area a few times to cut it all.

"Hello David, can you come by to check my machines?" He could. And he did.

The generator needed only a good cleaning of the carburetor (it was solidly gummed up) and a lengthy, good scrubbing by me to remove dried on oil, grime, and dirt.

The mower, however, was another story. When Dave stood it on end, it was obvious that both blades had several inches broken off! Darn rocks!

Cut to the chase...all is well again. Generator starts on the first pull and the mower cuts a FULL 38" swath now. Whew.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by and sitting in the shade with me as David worked his mechanical magic.

He even loaned me some of his bug spray. Whatta guy!

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

A flashing highlight of my military career...

Hey, a Combat Photographer in the Marines in the 1950s had to make his mark somewhere! In the "old Corps."

(Fortunately) it was a peaceful period, nobody shooting at anybody and I was assigned to the Base Photo Lab at Camp LeJeune, N.C., a member of Headquarters Batt., Support Company B, of the Second Marine Division.

Most of my work centered on parades at LeJeune, Changes of Command, official portraits and tons of "Grip & Grin" setups. 

Somewhere in my files is a shot of ME shaking hands and smiling as an officer congratulated me on - I suppose - gaining my Corporal E-4 stripes.

My favorite experience was during one of those General-shakes-hands-with-a-deserving-Marine standard photos, in the General's office. 

His aide stood to one side holding an extension flash, connected to me with a long black cord,  as I focused and snapped the shutter on my Speed Graphic 4x5 camera.

As sometimes happens with a #5 flashbulb if its protective coating has a scratch, when it flashed, it exploded with a LOUD bang! While very little glass is projected, it IS a startling sudden event.

The young man being honored flinched, as I recall, but the battle-tested Marine General had immediately dropped to his knees, defensive combat ready, and looked up at me in surprise.

His aide quickly assisted his boss back up as I shouted: "Oh shit, did I hit you General?"

​He sternly looked at me as he brushed his pants and said "No, Corporal, I am fine. Carry on." 

We reshot the photo, no bulbs exploded.

I quickly packed my gear and retreated...holding back a smile.

In combat, a photographer would seldom use a flash. 

They can be dangerous.​

Later, in the still peacful era, my duties were mainly Public Relations with the Corps. 

I got so bored, I volunteered to accompany a Tank Battalion to cover its 4-months of rugged training on a small island called Vieques, off the east coast of Puerto Rico.

The entire island was later sold by the Navy and today is a palm-shrouded, tourism mecca.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for wandering through my Marine military memories. 

Looking back, it had its moments and was a fun time.

Semper Fi.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Mayor has a Pink Martini...

Pink Martini, a 13-person "Little Orchestra" from Portland, played at the Gaillard last Tuesday night.

It's the first time they've been to Charleston.

Mayor John Tecklenberg was invited by the leader Thomas Lauderdale to sit in on piano. He came out with his music chart, did a piece as Thomas' PhoneCam captured the musical moment.

At the end of the show, the Mayor was asked to lead a Conga line around the hall.

Handed a tambourine, his honor led a growing crowd up, down, and across the aisles to laughter and applause.

I don't recall former Mayor Joe Riley ever being asked to do that.

But, he did serve a span of 40 years, so it may have been requested.

I thought about joining the end of the line as he passed in front of me (twice).

Instead, I held back and wielded my camera to capture an interesting moment with our new Mayor.

Meanwhile, as they say, the band played on. It reminded me of Lawrence Welk when various band members took the microphone and sang .... in 9 different languages!

It was formed in Portland  in 1994, by Lauderdale, who was thinking about running for Mayor so he attended many speeches and observed that political rallies were ill-served by random musicians, hired to "entertain."

He felt they were underwhelming, lackluster and, mainly, just loud. These rallies deserved better so that was the origin of the group.

The talented lead singer was Storm Large, a 5-year veteran, who told the story of her first performance with the large group.

She had to learn songs in Spanish and Croatian, in 4 days.

Oh, and by the way, her opening venue was the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Even though I did not tag along on the Conga, it was a fun and eventful evening at the Gaillard Center.

Footnote: Received this email today:

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Toast To Paris and to the people of France...

 It didn't take me long to see that a 2-day visit to Paris 30 years ago, was just a peek, a glimpse. If that.

Spending more than a week there last month let me see just how much I missed the first time around.

Not just the increased time there, but the long walks, sidewalk cafes, constant attention-grabbers, diversity everywhere you looked and a smug feeling I was really getting into the spirit and rhythm of the city .

The first thing I noticed when I left Charleston and landed in Paris at CDG (Charles De Gaulle)...

The weather was cooler and the humidity was low.

The French really know how to make you feel welcome! Especially in the Summer.

As I walked towards the famed pyramids in front of the Louvre, I thought for a moment that they were gone. Poof!

Then I realized there was a huge image - in black & white - showing the building behind.

What a stunning concept. Stand in the perfect spot and everything lined up perfectly.

Everywhere, there were reminders of heightened security after several vicious terrorist attacks in Europe.

Seeing heavy police presence and armed soldiers on duty, patrolling and protecting the city, its people, and its treasures was comforting.

 Inside the Louvre, one better have a plan.

There is so much to see so make a list and scope out where the galleries are located.

Of course, others may have the same plan but, be patient. Crowds ebb and flow, even in front of the famed Mona Lisa.  I DID - eventually - get right up front. Nobody shouted "Smile!"

As a bonus while inside Notre Dame, a choir of young ladies (nuns?) assembled and sang a few hymns.

I set my camera on video to capture their voices as their joyful music echoed around the huge interior of the beautiful church.

Lots of museums, churches and palaces in and around Paris.

Overlooking the city from Montmartre, the highest point, is the Sacre Coeur, the Sacred Heart Basilica.

A taxi was needed for the long hike up there.

Crowds were massed on the stairs leading up the final incline.

This offered some very good scenes for my camera.

I spotted two ladies sharing a patterned parasol for shade.

I concentrated on making them the focal point as I looked out over the city from this elevation.

That is an excellent idea I try to fulfill - getting up high and seeing the overall view - when I travel.

Another is to take a city tour, noting places and images I want to come back to and spend more time.

I never had THIS view of the steps inside the Arc de Triomphe.

Luckily my buddy, who planned most of the trip, found there is an elevator option.

It got a bit complicated finding the right person to authorize me to forego climbing the 289 steps to the top.

Once that person was located, it was a quick trip up in the elevator and he then apologized that I had to climb the final 46 steps to the Terrasse, with its panoramic view of Paris.

Looking west, in a direct line from the Arc, is LaGrande Arche de la Defense.

(Mostly) opened in 1989, this white modern square* is a salute to peace.

It provides a reverse view of the AXE, the series of monuments standing in a straight line.

In 1944, the Arc was the center point of a WWII victory parade.

This honored the French hero-General Charles de Gaulle.

Today, that Champs-Elysees parade route is filled with expensive shops and stores.

My camera tried to capture an interesting juxtaposition of "then and now."

This is the front of the Paris City Hall.

The colorful rainbow banners are in place for the upcoming Gay Pride Week in the city.

Dining "inside a clock" is a quirky feature of the Mussee d'Orsay.

The former train station was converted into an excellent display of paintings and sculpture.

It warrants a long visit and perhaps a meal behind one of the two massive clocks that face the Seine.

Each evening we were greeted at out apartment by a wise pigeon who perches on our balcony railing.

It is the same distinctive one who knows our place has changing tenants who need to be reminded to put out food when they leave for the day.

We complied and each evening, the pile of tasty dry cereal is gone. That is a very plump pigeon.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

I enjoy looking at these photos and reliving an excellent visit overseas. Hope you have a similar pleasure in seeing them.

*Oh, here's a view of the "other" Arche in West Paris:

(Thanks for stopping by. Click on the pictures and links for more details.) Merci.
 Au Revoir.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

I "Kilt" them in Scotland.

During a changing-of-the-guard at Edinburgh's Castle, I wondered if I was being watched?

I had wandered up the hill, crossed the Esplanade (drill field) and entered through the spiked front gate.

Crowds all around me snapped photos and dodged quick bursts of rain, amid the military spectacle of this fabled Scottish landmark.

But, could this guard actually see me.... or anyone else?

You can see the Castle from almost all parts of this capital city.

August 5-27, the "temporary" bleachers will be filled nightly as the Military Tattoo is performed on the very ground I had just walked on to reach the entrance.

The guide on a really neat Vintage Bus Tour had explained the bleachers.

They are set up each year for the gala  month-long gathering of pipers and dancers.

"Three months to build, about 30 days of use, and then, disassembled and stored," he said with a delightful heavy brogue.

Later, as I walked and cabbed about the three levels of the city, I saw a reminder of the recent Brexit vote that allowed Britain to leave the European Union.

Scotland, and others in the United Kingdom, had voted to remain.

Looking down, I saw a Scottish version of Charleston's Rainbow Row.

We don't have such a lofty view of our colorful stretch near the Battery.

And we have never had flapping banners hanging overhead.

Another "rainbow" was sighted along the tour route.

This was a salute of LGBT support after the recent massacre in Orlando, Florida.

Back to the Castle for a moment.
Looking over a projecting cannon, I could see that our balcony room was in the sights.

Well, we had a grand view of the Castle from the balcony so this was not a total surprise.

The occasional rain and wind made holding an umbrella a challenge.

We had opted instead for  two "Mackintosh," waterproof  parkas.

These Macs doubled for warmth when, later, we ventured into the Highlands in search of the Loch Ness Monster.

Paris was definitely a "walking" kind of place.

But, Edinburgh, with its steep hills, gave us many opportunities to hop in and out of a black cab.

The efficient interior reminded me of the old U.S. Checker cabs in NYC.

Saw several buskers, amusing and teasing passersby, demonstrating feats of balance, poise, and concentration.

The Illusionists had apparently found ways to defy gravity.

And fatigue.

I dropped a few pounds into the hat.

A sign I didn't see very often - and then one often ignored by tourists - was a ban  on cameras.

Finally saw one that specifically told us not to use a smartphone camera either.

I saw a LOT of Scotch whisky.

And I tasted a few, so I finally had to ask what was the main difference between 12-year old and a whopping 25-year old Scotch?

"Mainly, the price," I was told.

Ageing took longer so there were fewer to be had. Therefore, a higher cost.

And, speaking of lucky (?), many believed that rubbing the foot of this statue would bring you luck.

I did so because why would I pass up a chance for good fortune?

And, on that upbeat note, I'll stop for now.

Oh, I have plenty more pictures so there will be lots of additional entries. (Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for riding around in cabs and peering over cannons with me.

Have a wee dram and we'll get back together soon.

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